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The launch of the seventh-generation Porsche 911 began with the 2012 model year and extends through the 2013 and 2014 model years as all the variants adopt the new platform and new body style. The new 991, as it is called internally, replaces the outgoing 997 (2007-2011). It's an interesting numbering system, but the new 991 is anything but a step backward. This seventh-generation Porsche 911 is a big leap forward from the previous generation with a totally new platform.
The 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera is available in coupe and Cabriolet forms. It comes in two states of tune, the 350-horsepower Carrera and the 400-horsepower Carrera S. The 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4, Carrera 4S, Carrera 4 Cabriolet, and Carrera 4S Cabriolet bring all-wheel drive into the equation. The 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S go on sale near the end of 2013, along with the track-ready 2014 Porsche 911 GT3. Mix and match all the combinations and it's a lot of models, each one a fantastic sports car. You can't buy a bad 911, though having to choose among them could be stressful.
The new 991 is longer, lower and wider than the 997 before it, but the familiar Porsche 911 profile remains. Also familiar is its rear-engine layout featuring a horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine emitting a traditional Porsche wail. Traditional but tuned with the latest engineering and technology.
The Porsche 911 Carrera is powered a 3.4-liter flat-six punching out 350 horsepower and 287 pound-feet of torque, with a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 4.4 seconds, according to Porsche. The Carrera S goes with a larger, 3.8-liter flat-six making 400 hp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, with launch times to 60 mph of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 189 mph. Both engines are available with a 7-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, which Porsche dubs PDK for Doppelkupplung. Any of the Carrera models would make fine daily transportation.
Cabriolets feature an automatic soft top that can be raised or lowered in just 13 seconds and at speeds of up to 31 mph. Every Carrera variant is available as a Cabriolet.
We've driven the 911 Carrera S, the model we expect most Porsche 911 buyers to choose. One of the notable differences between this new 991 generation and the outgoing 997 is the steering; Porsche switched from a hydraulic system to electric steering, a move that created a stir among enthusiasts. Nearly all luxury automakers have made that change nowadays, citing lightness and better efficiency. And while some experts call the new steering numb, we found, unlike many of the new electric power steering systems on other cars, the electro-hydraulic system on the Porsche 911 continues to keep you in touch more than enough to let you know precisely what the car is doing.
Another improvement over the previous generation is the addition of the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active roll stabilization system. Porsche claims its PDCC technology enhances cornering performance by keeping the tires in their optimal position at all times while minimizing body roll.
The Porsche 911 is surprisingly conservative when it comes to fuel economy. A lighter curb weight compared to the previous generation, combined with technologies such as auto stop/start, helps the 2013 Porsche Carrera achieve an EPA-estimated 20/27 mpg City/Highway with the manual transmission and 19/28 mpg with the PDK. The all-wheel-drive Carrera 4S Cabriolet is the least fuel-friendly of the bunch, but still reasonable for the class, at 18/26 mpg city/highway with the manual and 19/26 mpg with the PDK.
This latest Porsche 911 is a markedly refined machine. The interior has the lavish appointments you'd expect in a high-line sedan, with such niceties as the new 18-way power driver's seat. That'll keep you firmly in place during the hardest cornering, but it's also comfortable enough to be an everyday driver. Although its base price is relatively reasonable, the options add up fast, and it's not uncommon to see 911s with astronomical stickers.
They say there is no substitute, but competition for the Porsche 911 includes sports cars that can handle track days and the daily commute including the Aston Martin V8 Vantage or Mercedes-Benz SL Class. Purer is the Lotus Evora, in both naturally aspirated and supercharged variants.